Spicy Lentil Stew with Butternut Squash, Chickpeas, and Goat Cheese

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I apologize in advance for the brain-dump this is about to be…it’s just one of those posts!

This week Sean, Casper, and I made a quick overnight trip to Seattle. I wanted to go to Jessica’s book signing and Sean wanted to visit his BFF. It was super quick, but so fun! Casper and I met up for coffee with Jessica and her mom (who is SO sweet and friendly) before the event and she is the best! Really, just as warm, funny, and conversational as her blog. I loved it. It’s always super fun to meet someone you correspond with on the internets, in real life. On a side note, the book store where the signing took place, The Book Larder, is AMAZING. It’s a bookstore exclusively dedicated to cookbooks and it’s wonderful. If you are ever in Seattle, definitely go there.

After that Casper and I met up with Sean, his BFF and his wife, and had pizza and salad at their apartment and met their HUGE, soft, sweet Burnese pup.  It was a fun, whirlwind-ish mid-week trip. I was a little nervous how Casper would fare, being in the car for 3 hours each way, roaming around Seattle, and sleeping in a strange place, but he was a total champ and mostly napped the whole time. I was super impressed, and a little jealous of his napping skills, ha!

After we got home, I discovered all of my succulents had spider mites…insert cringey-face-emoji!!! I am super squeamish about any kind of insect, even the teensiest ones, so I moved those suckers outside and am currently mourning the loss of my succulents/trying not to freak out/itch my face off.

Now that I’ve grossed you out with bug-talk, lets talk food. I know…cringe…SORRY.

Anyway, before I left, I made this stew…and full disclosure, I’ve totally posted a similar recipe on the blog before. This version is a bit different and I thought it was worth a revamp/revisit. I love this stew and it’s variations for a lot of reasons. It’s easy and quick, filling, warm from all the spices, vegetarian, and pretty cheap to make with on-hand pantry staples…plus, it’s totally adaptable. This version contains plenty of butternut squash that brings a bit of welcome sweetness against the spiciness of the serrano chiles. Red lentils and chickpeas make this stew hearty and filling without the addition of meat. I love to serve this stew with a tangy, creamy cheese one top, or even a hefty dollop of greek yogurt, for some tang and creaminess. Fresh cilantro and lemon brighten up the party and are a nice contrast to the warm spices. 

Print Recipe

Spicy Lentil Stew with Butternut Squash, Chickpeas, and Goat Cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 ribs celery, diced

2 serrano peppers, seeded and diced

1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced

1 clove garlic minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

3 cups diced butternut squash

1/2 cup dry, red lentils

1, 15.5 ounce, can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1, 28 ounce, can crushed tomatoes

2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock

salt to taste

juice of 1 lemon

soft goat cheese

cilantro

lemon wedges and pita to serve

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat and add the onions, carrots, celery, and serrano, plus a small pinch of salt. Sauté for a few minutes until the vegetables begin to soften and the onions are translucent. Add the minced ginger and garlic, and cook about 1 minute before adding the tomato paste, cumin, cinnamon, and turmeric, stir well to combine and cook for a few minutes until the tomato paste becomes deep red. Then, add in the butternut squash, lentils, chickpeas, tomatoes, and chicken stock, all at once. Stir well to combine, taste for salt, then bring the stew to a boil. Once the stew is boiling turn it down to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook for about 20 minutes or until the lentils and squash are tender. Taste again for salt, season as desired. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Serve generous portions of the stew with crumbled goat cheese, cilantro, lemon wedges, and warmed pita bread.

All the Pumpkin!

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I have some pumpkin plans for the blog this month but, until I get that stuff baked up, here’s a round-up of ALL THE PUMPKIN things on the blog.

Get yo’ pumpkin on!

Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Buns

Soft Pumpkin Sandwich Buns

Malted Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

Chocolate Cupcakes with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Brown Butter Malt Donuts

Maple Pumpkin Granola

Pumpkin Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream

Pumpkin Semifreddo

Pumpkin Beer Waffles

Pumpkin Bread with Bourbon Icing

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

Honeycrisp, Sage, & Bacon Shells and Cheese

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Northern Hemispherians! It’s fall, or more properly, autumn!

I always look forward to the change of seasons, but Autumn is my favorite. It’s the cool change in the air that demands I bring back my cardigans from the depths of my closet, warm beverages, nights that require a fire, oven-baked everything, pumpkins and crazy looking gourds at the market, and apples.

I’ve been preparing for the change of the season by buying Casper tiny-plaid shirts that make him look like a lumberjack-in-training, hats that make him look like a baby-bear, and lots of honeycrisp apples for me to eat. I LOVE honeycrisps. I really fell in love with them when we were living in Michigan–they were abundant there and I am pretty sure that I ate at least my weight in them late last fall after I found out I was pregnant. So, basically, Casper is at least 1/3 honeycrisp apple–the other 2/3 being a mix of strawberries and pizza.Anyway, let’s talk about the perfect fall-flavored mac and cheese. This dish combines my favorite sweet-tart-crisp apple with my favorite fall herb–sage–plus bacon, cheddar, goat cheese, and parm for good measure. Triple-cheese-threat!

And it’s so good, guys! It has all the cheesy goodness you’d expect from classic macaroni and cheese, complete with a crisp topping, plus tart apples, sweet onions, salty bacon, and earthy sage. UGH. It’s so good. Sean was a little skeptical, I think, but I assured him that cheese and apples are friends so it totes makes sense. It’s one of those dishes that made me want to high-five myself when it was done, because it’s good…like, really.

Print Recipe

 

Honeycrisp, Sage, & Bacon Shells and Cheese

You can use any firm, tart-sweet apple you like for this recipe.

Serves 6-8

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 tablespoon bacon grease reserved from cooking

2 honeycrisp apples, diced and peeled

1 medium onion, sliced

1 tablespoon fresh, chopped sage

1 lb. small to medium shell pasta

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon flour

3 cups milk

6 ounces shredded white cheddar cheese

4 ounces soft goat cheese

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, divided

1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 tablespoon melted, unsalted butter

Garnish:

Sage leaves

Canola oil

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon grease over medium-high and cook the apples and onions with a pinch of salt until softened. Remove from the heat and toss with the chopped sage and most of the bacon (reserve a few tablespoons for the top of the pasta).

Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water and cook about 2 minutes less than the package instructs. Drain in a colander and set aside.

In the same pot you used to cook the pasta, melt the butter over medium heat and stir in the flour to create a roux. Cook the roux about 1 minute before gradually stirring in the milk. Bring the milk mixture to a simmer and cook until it thickens a bit. Gradually add in the cheddar, goat cheese, and 1/4 cup of the parmesan, stirring to melt and combine. Stir in the nutmeg and add salt and pepper to taste and remove from the heat. Add the cooked pasta and bacon, apple, onion mixture to the cheese sauce and stir to combine. Scrape the pasta into a 9×13 baking dish, or two smaller dishes (I used a 10-inch round dish and 4x4inch square dish). In bowl, toss the panko with the melted butter and remaining 2 tablespoons of parmesan, sprinkle over the top of the pasta evenly. Top the pasta with the reserved bacon and bake in the center of the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are browned and the edges of the pasta are bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to rest at least 5 minutes before serving.

To garnish with fried sage, heat about 1/2 inch of canola oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat and fry sage leaves until crisp. Drain on paper towels before adding to the baked pasta.